3-year-old saves family from house fire: 'He saved Mommy's life'

THUNDERBOLT (WTOC) - A 3-year-old boy saved four people and three dogs from a house fire in Thunderbolt Sunday morning.

First responders and mom Sybil Templeton said 3-year-old Ian Gatewood's quick-thinking allowed everyone inside of the Bannon Drive home to escape safely.

Templeton said she and her son were asleep in the room they share when Ian shook her awake.

"I woke up and realized the room was full of smoke," Templeton said.

"Did you wake me up?" Templeton asked Ian.

"Yeah," Ian said. "There was fire in the house."

Thinking the fire was in their bedroom, she opened the door to escape.

"The heat and the smoke hit me, and I realized that the house was on fire," she said. "I started banging on the doors, put my clothes over Ian's mouth and filtered him while I was trying to make our way to the front and get out of here."

Since Ian is only three, Templeton said they've never formally talked about fire safety.

"He likes to watch fireman stuff," she said. "He likes to watch hero stuff, so I think he knew from that. I haven't really thought to go over that with him because he's so young. You know, maybe later on, but he's only 3. So I didn't really think about it."

She thinks he just recognized the smoke wasn't normal and knew there was a problem.

"I think he knew, 'Hey it's smokey. We have to get out of here.'" she said.

As it sinks in her son saved her life, Templeton said the emotion is overwhelming.

"I've been crying for like two days thinking if my son wasn't here, I probably wouldn't be here right now honestly," Templeton said crying. "Very lucky. It could have been so much worse."

Homeowner Shane Smith, who also escaped from the fire, shares the same sentiment.

"Very grateful me and my dogs and everybody else got out alive, and we're good," he said. "You know what I'm saying? We're good. God got us."

Templeton said Ian doesn't grasp the gravity of his actions right now, but said she will ensure he does.

"I'm never going to let him forget it," Templeton said. "He saved Mommy's life, saved everybody's life."

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